We are seeking to appoint a single person to direct this grant. The director will also use the grant funds to appoint a team to efficiently coordinate the human functional genomics initiative. This person must be based at an eligible UK research organisation who, along with their organisation, will be responsible for submitting the grant application to UKRI.
The director will demonstrate the following skills and expertise:
- track record of delivery and leadership of international quality programmes in human functional genomics research
- thorough understanding of the genomics landscape, within the UK and internationally, and the vision and ability to understand the big picture and the impact of research within the initiative
- understanding of the barriers and opportunities in functional genomics research in the UK for example data, skills, training and capacity building
- experience of collaboration and building effective relationships at all levels between academia, government, and industry
- experience in handling sensitivities around the use of genomic and other patient data for research
- ability to deliver a strategic plan that builds on the initiative’s scientific excellence, leadership, infrastructure and skills to support integrative research approaches to transform our understanding of human health and disease
- experience of leading and managing a team
The director will demonstrate the following behaviours:
- dedication to upholding and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion
- encourages and welcomes ideas, initiative and innovative approaches
adapts an inclusive, networking approach, working effectively with researchers from different fields, particularly outside of their immediate expertise
Aims of the human functional genomics initiative
The human functional genomics initiative will advance the UKRI ‘securing better health, ageing and wellbeing’ strategic priority, an initiative driven forward by all UKRI research councils. The initiative aims to advance our understanding of the complexity of human physiology and how it changes over time and in disease, by exploiting recent advances in our ability to explore how genetic variation impacts complex phenotypes. This will enable the discovery and development of the next generation of genomically informed biomarkers, diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventative medicine strategies.
This is a timely opportunity to support functional genomics research as the convergence of recent advances in gene-editing technology, multimodal functional assessment at scale, artificial intelligence, and effective cell-based model systems allows us to answer questions that have previously been impossible.
The first stage of this initiative has now been completed through the funding of interdisciplinary clusters, which aim to drive a greater understanding of physiological pathways, organs and systems in both healthy and disease states through functional genomics research. The funded clusters are expected to complement each other, pro-actively coordinate across the initiative, work collaboratively, and provide access to the models, tools and data developed through the initiative on an open as possible, closed as necessary basis.
Through this funding opportunity we are now looking for a director to facilitate effective coordination across the initiative and with external partners. As part of the initiative, additional substantial ring-fenced funding will also be provided to support the integration and access to data generated by the funded clusters. The director is expected to play a key role in shaping and supporting this part of the initiative, including contributing to the development of global data standards in this area.
To be supported through this funding opportunity, the director will assemble a team consisting of:
- senior project manager
- communications and strategic engagement manager
- administrative assistant
This coordination hub will work closely with the leads of each of the human functional genomics research clusters.
The overarching role of the coordination hub will be to:
- facilitate and incentivise collaboration and coordination of the clusters, both within the initiative and with the wider academic, clinical and industrial research communities
- provide scientific and financial management of the collaboration and innovation fund and use it to respond to emerging opportunities
- coordinate the human functional genomics initiative level communication and engagement activities, including with industry
- establish and drive the principles of participation in the initiative, for example intellectual property expectations, data access and sharing
- with the cluster leads, manage the governance processes of the initiative and lead on reporting and assurance, including reporting to the funders
Hub team roles
Specific details on the requirements for the team are as follows.
The director will be an outstanding collaborator and have a strong strategic vision and proven track record of delivery of research relevant to functional genomics. This individual will be responsible for coordinating and shaping the delivery of the human functional genomics initiative. The director will have the ability and experience to develop and lead an internationally renowned initiative, which will coordinate and deliver research that has potential to step-change functional genomics research in the UK.
- leadership of the human functional genomics initiative
- guiding the development and delivery of the initiative as a whole, working with the clusters to ensure synergy and collaboration of the clusters and with external, relevant research and infrastructure
- contribute to shaping and supporting data efforts in functional genomics as part of the initiative, including contributing to the development of global data standards in this area
- building relationships with all relevant stakeholders, particularly the research cluster leads, cultivating cohesion and collaboration to deliver the wider ambitions
- advocating widely for functional genomics research both within and beyond the UK
- reporting to the oversight Board and funders as described
- effective management of budgets, risks and issues, reporting and raising as required to the oversight Board
- line management of the coordination hub team
The role will be part-time, with an expected minimum of 0.4 FTE.
Senior project manager
The senior project manager will be responsible for driving and monitoring the delivery of the initiative, working with the director to ensure that the objectives are clearly defined and achieved within the agreed time, cost and quality constraints. The senior project manager will play a key role in project governance and working with stakeholders to ensure the agreed project outputs are delivered.
- day to day management and coordination of the initiative
- working with the director and leads of the clusters to support budget management, forecasting and reporting
- create timelines and milestones to drive delivery of the initiative
- scheduling and managing resources
- identifying and monitoring project risks and issues, developing mitigating actions and escalate as appropriate
- providing key reports and supporting effective governance and decision making
- working closely with the funders and providing reports that update on progress against achieving milestones and agreed deliverables
- management of networking and collaboration funds with the engagement manager
- leading on collaboration agreements between clusters to drive the principles of participation in the initiative, for example, intellectual property expectations, data access and sharing
- lead industry engagement, implement initiative level collaboration agreements to encourage and streamline industry participation
The senior project manager is expected to be between 0.5 and 1.0 FTE.
Communication and strategic engagement manager
The engagement manager will have responsibility for the full range of the initiative’s communications activities, including digital (web, social media and audiovisual), publications, events and media relations, and play a key role in delivering strategic engagement on behalf of the hub.
This role will also focus on engaging and communicating with key stakeholders. The manager will work closely with the director and colleagues across the research clusters, facilitating internal communication and ensuring external outputs are coordinated.
- developing and maintaining specific internal and external communications and stakeholder engagement strategies for the initiative
- mapping and management, working with the director, of the initiative stakeholders, identifying key influencers and engaging productively to further strategic objectives,
- developing a public engagement strategy
- working closely with the research clusters to support and coordinate development and delivery of their communications plans, raising awareness of opportunities such as funding and training opportunities, managing knowledge exchange events and seminars
- organising and running events, with the senior project manager
- working with colleagues to develop and deliver a standalone initiative website and its subsequent day-to-day management, keeping it up to date, drafting and uploading news stories and blogs
- support on cross-cluster and industry engagement
The communication and engagement manager is expected to be between 0.5 and 1.0 FTE.
The administrative assistant will provide administrative support to the director, senior network manager and communications manager.
The administrative assistant is expected to be 0.4 FTE or above.
Collaboration and Innovation fund
The director and hub team will manage a ‘collaboration and innovation fund’ of up to £1 million (100% full economic cost (FEC)) which will be allocated through a defined mechanism to promote and incentivise collaboration across the clusters and with external partners to widen the reach of the initiative and support the development of emerging areas of need. This could be used to fund activities led by the coordination hub, the research clusters, or commissioned externally, and the director’s proposed uses for the fund will be put to the oversight board for approval.
Monitoring and reporting
At the start of the award, the director will be required to produce an updated timeline, deliverables list and risk register for the functional genomics oversight board.
The coordination hub roles will report to the director. The director will report to the functional genomics oversight board.
Funding and duration
Following their successful appointment, the director will receive a grant from MRC to provide funding for the coordination team of up to £1 million (100% FEC), UKRI will fund 80% FEC, meaning up to £0.8 million,) over four years. The director’s research organisation should cost the grant according to standard FEC rules, and the final decision on the funding amount will be made by MRC.
The award will cover:
- salaries of the team
- funding for the responsibilities described above, such as running workshops and networking
- travel and subsistence
The director will also be responsible for the management and disbursement of a collaboration and innovation fund of £1 million (100% FEC).
While the funding for the collaboration and innovation fund is provided as part of the same award, it is ringfenced. The funding will be provided to the director for onward distribution and management, they must be used for the purposes described above, and as set out in the award terms and conditions.
The award will start before 1 April 2024 and is for four years.